Federal Budget: Paternity Leave, The Urban Daddy on CTV!


Yesterday was the 3rd Federal Liberal budget and if you paid any attention to the news leading up to the budget, you would have heard that this was going to be a “gender” budget, as our Prime Minister and Finance Minister hope to save Canadian “Peoplekind”,

What made it a “gender” budget was the inclusion of policies aimed to equalize pay between men and women and adopting a paternity leave benefit program which was implemented in Quebec just over 10-years-ago.

As a father of 3 children, I was lucky to have the opportunity to take parental leave with 2 of my three kids.  I was working for the Canada Revenue Agency, and the CRA topped up my salary from the 66% which I would have received while on EI, to 93% of my salary.

Who wouldn’t take advantage of this opportunity to support his spouse, bond with his children and help out with everything that comes with children, which is why I took 9-months with our first child, 4-months with our second child, and by the time our third child rolled around, I was in the private sector and took just one day.

So who better to speak on the government’s policy than me, right?

I was on the CTV News Network, live, in the morning with Marcia McMillan, and then in the evening, CTV Alberta Bureau Chief Janet Dirks interviewed my wife and I for a well done piece on what worked and what didn’t with regard to paternity benefits.

Watch the clip here; CTV Parental Leave The Urban Daddy

It was my first foray into TV – I have been on the radio quite a lot to discuss tax-issues – and I really liked it (except for the way I looked in the evening interview – exhausted!)

Here is how I feel about the Liberals intention vs plan of action; They talk a great game but always seem to fall short, with an ultimate cost to the taxpayers, for their plans.

They said that providing fathers to take 5-weeks off would lure more women into the workforce.

???

There were no new day care spots made available, nor any changes to the Live-In Caregiver program, so it left my wife and I puzzled as to how this was going to lure women into the work force.

Is it possible that behind this message was a belief that men don’t do anything around the household and that if, in 5-weeks – with them being home, changing diapers, cooking meals and keeping the house clean – men will realize they can help out at home, thus lessening the burden on women?

I think that’s a stretch, to say the least, but for $1.2 billion dollars – and starting in June 2019 – men will be able to take 5-weeks off with their partners to help, support and bond.  It’s certainly better than nothing.

It doesn’t change the stereotype that men don’t do paternity leave.

It doesn’t change the hesitation of some firms to hire woman who are in their child-bearing years.

It does make the Liberals look hip, and cool.

I just hope the last point wasn’t the motivation behind this initiative…

 

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Help Needed Dads: Survey About Fathers’ Use of Parental Leave


Good morning readers,

I am looking a whole lot of fathers to complete this survey regarding work-related barriers and facilitators to Canadian fathers’ use of parental leave.

This survey is open to all recent Canadian fathers with these characteristics, regardless of whether or not they have taken parental leave, so if you are or know a father with at least one child born or adopted since 2010, and who lived and worked in Canada at the time, please fill out the survey (or pass along the survey link).

There is no compensation for participation in the survey; however, your responses will help build a pile of data which may hopefully contribute to finding better ways to support work-life balance for Canadian fathers.
This survey was forwarded to me by Xiaoyang Luo, who is a Master of Public Policy student at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, BC, and as a graduate from a Public Policy program here in Toronto I want to help wherever possible, and getting a significant number of responses is a great start!
The questions are mainly about the culture of the father’s workplace environment at the time of the birth or adoption of his youngest child and how supportive or discouraging that culture was of fathers’ use of parental leave and general work-life balance.
If you have any questions or feedback on the survey, you can email Xiaoyang directly here: xla121@sfu.ca.
I can say personally that after having taken 2 paid parental leaves with my first 2 children while I was working for the federal government, I felt strongly discouraged to take any time off with the birth of our third child – I was working in the private sector – which resulted in me taking just one day off of work to help my wife and kids.
So please take a moment to complete the survey and share it with other Canadian Dads who fit the desired profile.
Do it for Dadkind!
Thanks!

TD Canada Trust Panel Discussion: Parental Leave and Finances… Which came first?


Finance
Finance (Photo credit: Tax Credits)

On Wednesday October 17th, I will be joining a select roundtable of fellow bloggers along with financial experts John Tracy and Krystina Fraser from TD Canada Trust to discuss the financial realities of having children. 

As a parent, you already know first hand that having children can be quite expensive, so the purpose of this discussion is to help TD Canada Trust help us, their customers, get a better understanding of the challenges parents face when preparing their personal finances for the arrival of their child(ren) and for parental leaves.

I was fortunate enough to take a paid parental leave to be home with my wife for the birth of our first two children.  I took 9 months off with Linus and then 4 months off when Stewie was born.  Since we planned on both being home we had to ensure our finances remained in order well in advance of their births in order to  maintain our household expenses and current living style in addition to making sure I could continue to take courses when I was off (I completed my MBA). 

Just like the discussion (when) to have children usually happens well in advance of the first child being born, so too should begin the discussion about how to best get your personal finances in order for when the child(ren) arrive and for any parental leave(s).  All it takes to begin the discussion is a budget covering your current financial situation, followed by several mock budgets covering off life and expenses while pregnant, then in preparation for birth when the furniture needs to be purchased or borrowed, the car seat (possibly a new car as we had to do), a stroller, and clothes, etc., and then another budget for after baby comes which covers off the costs of items like diapers, baby toys, bigger clothes, nanny vs day care, programs, then schools…  The budgets must be revisited whenever your financial situation changes in order to make sure everything remains on track.

It absolutely never ends which is why getting your finances in order ahead of time makes the most sense and if you plan really well you might even have some left over pocket change to begin a RESP. 

Prior to the event, I would like to collect questions from you guys which I can table during the discussion and I will share the details after in a post.  Hopefully you will want to also share some insight on how you prepared financially for the arrival of your child(ren), or if you didn’t, how you have handled your finances since the arrival of your child(ren). 

You can also follow along the discussion on Twitter through #TDParentalLeave.

In addition, the great folks at TD Canada Trust have given me a $100.00 Indigo gift card which I will raffle off among those of you who “like” or comment on the post on my blog, Facebook page, LinkedIn, Google + or Twitter.  This contest closes Wednesday at noon, Toronto-time so get moving on it right away.

Nothing like getting back to the office after 4-months off, right?!?


English: MRI of a disc extrusion of 15mm in th...
English: MRI of a disc extrusion of 15mm in the left lateral recess, at the L4-L5 level compressing the left central L5 nerve root. Notice the lack of contrast in the herniated disc, indicating a lack of fluid, and the compressed height relative to other discs in the spine. The lack of contrast on the abdomen side of the disc is an imaging artifact and not another herniation. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I knew deep down inside that it was not going to be so easy getting back to work after being off for 4 months while on paid paternity leave and coming back with a very sore back.  Not matter how I tried to prepare myself, or my employer, I just knew in my gut that it was not going to go anywhere near what I had imagined.

I decided to go to bed really early, at 10:30pm and right after Stewie’s dream feed because I wanted to maximize my sleep so I could go in somewhat fresh.  Since Stewie wakes up each and every night at 1am, 2am, 3am, 4am and 5am he did not disappoint me this night either which meant we were all exhausted come morning.

By 5am, I was so tired that I took him down to the family room, curled up on the couch with him tucked safely behind me, then I turned on the TV and within seconds fell right back asleep.  I little later than I had hope, I brought the little guy back into the bedroom to be with Mummy at 7:15 just before I raced out the door to attempt to walk to the subway, but just before I left, Linus was awaken by Stewie’s so I grabbed him and took him into his Mummy’s room too.  I hobbled down the stairs ready to get moving which is when I remembered that I had to back the car out of the garage – a task that UrbanMummy is either incapable of, or afraid of.  (giggle).

Now much later, I began to dreading the task ahead of me, the walk to the subway, but I was really looking forward to the fresh-air and calm and quiet.  My mystery back / piriformis ailment is still bothering me, but I figured I would take it easy and try to walk to the subway in 15-20 minutes and see how I felt during and after.  That was a big mistake.

The weather for my first day back was minus 20 degrees with the windchill and the damn walk took me just over 30 minutes!  Sigh. Frozen and tired, I arrived at the office to find out that nothing had changed.  From the moment I walked in the doors, I knew that I would have to move on from this place sooner rather than later.  I don’t agree with the management philosophy, nor the way certain people treat others and their files, I no longer find the work challenging and today I found that the smell in the place makes me stuffed up. I might actually be allergic to the office.

Also not surprising to me considering that I’ve been warning my boss that I would be coming back today for quite a few weeks, I had even given him a list of things that needed to be done before my first day so I can jump right back into the swing of things and not have to wait around wasting time and money –  but I got into the office with no access to my terminal, or my desk, and when I managed to get partial access, I no longer had an inventory.

Ugh.

So I turned my focus to my morning coffee break. I wonder how many days it will take them (or me) to get access so I can do some work.  I don’t get paid to sit around… Wait… Yes I do.

So the highlight of my day was my coffee break.  It was cold, but fun.  I certainly love myself a Tim Horton’s large double double.

Thinking that nothing could top this day so far, I returned from coffee break, was able to sit down at my desk, and not only was there a phone but there was also a phone message!  How my wife knew I was set up with a phone, I would never know, but when I checked the message it was actually from my Doctor and she had the MRI results on my mystery “back” problems.

The message simply stated that I have a herniated disk in my back, L5 area, which is the lowest disk in the back. The disk has a moderate to large herniation and the disk is pushing outward, not to the side as was expected, hence my numbness in weird areas.

Joy.

Out of all the sports injuries I have had, ranging from stitches, separated shoulders, broken toes, broken and cracked ribs, sprains, strains, torn rotator cuff, tendonitis, cuts, welts, etc., I have never a back problem, until now.  I can now look forward to a ton of physiotherapy and hopefully one day being able to do up my own shoe laces.

Great start to my day, and getting even better!  A few of us went for lunch to the very close, and newly opened Bombay Bhel Indian restaurant and I have to admit I was a little surprised that the food was sitting in warming trays, being kept warm by candles.  Of course, in keeping with the  pattern of my day, I noticed after lunch that the food was sitting on my chest, a little like I had overeaten, and a little like I was going to be ill.  This feeling stayed with me the rest of the day, and I barely made it through the day – left 20 minutes after the office closed – got home, skipped dinner and went right sleep.  I woke up for my Human Resources Management class but fell back asleep during the class.

Then I spent the rest of the night throwing up which really sucks large when you have a herniated disk in your back.  I’m not sure what was worse.  Repeated trips to the bathroom, or the pain in my back and legs.

I ended up sleeping all day on Wednesday.  I vaguely remember a comment from my wife just before bed that night which may have contained this phrase, ” Must be nice to be able to sleep all day”.

Well it was not nice and karma was a bitch to her, because she would be felled by the same virus (I swear she gave it to me in the first place), and she would be sick until early Sunday morning.  I started to feel better Friday and great on Saturday, but this illness took the toll on her as she was sick, sick, sick.  She couldn’t eat, couldn’t drink or keep anything inside her.  Even Stewie got sick, but my wife managed to somehow remain hydrated after 5 days without food or water, to keep herself and him from the hospital.

I carried that 16 pound boy around for the rest of the week and the longer I held him, the more I felt my back hurt and as a result, my foot would go numb and my big toe on the left side was constantly stinging with pain from the pressed nerve.  I just wish he would sleep so w could both get some rest!

I’m going to hit the sack and wait for the wailing wake up from the littlest one between 5-5:30am when my day will start all over again.

I’m so glad to be “back” at work!

I’m Heading Back to Work after a 2 Month Paternity leave and 6 week sick leave… Joy!


Today is my last day at home before returning to work, after a 2-month paternity leave and 6-week sick leave, understandibly I am full of emotion.

I really felt that at the beginning of this leave that I would be able to get things done around the house, build a better relationship with my wife, form a bond with my son, finish my 2 BA classes, jump start my promotional business and socialize a little. But boy, was I wrong. Not only did I not see my friends, but because of our non-sleeping, very heavy son, and my lack of any sort of physical shape whatsoever resulted in, what we suspect to be, a herniated disk, or pinched nerve in my back. I’m waiting for the MRI results which should be here any moment.

So I go to physiotherapy twice a week now, and have managed to lose 10 pounds (a good thing) and my stretching and exercises are aimed at my lower back, abs and butt. That might help with the build a better relationship part… Butt seriously (pun intended) This time away from work has helped me put life back into perspective. I need to spend more time on me. I want to be in shape, I want that exciting career, and the pay and power that goes with it. I love politics and need to be involved in some way, and I really want to take cooking classes and guitar lessons (if only I could sing). I no longer need to eat all the time, especially snacks. I hate the way I feel after eating some 300 calorie treat. I took my wife for granted. Whatever I didn’t do, she would do. She’s like that. She’s a doer, and I’m a talker. I’d take on 10 tasks, knowing that I would really on remember to do 5 of them and actually do two or three of them. Because I don’t learn, instead of tracking what I agreed to do, I would have forgotten them while urban mummy wait, then understandably, question my work ethic. I need to learn to say no, AND do what I say I am going to do.

It’s been tough to say no, but in such a short period of time, I find the results much more relaxing for me.

I learned that graduate school will take care of itself. I enjoy the courses and do very well, whether I pour 30 hours a weeks into it, or 3 hours. I have to be productive and get the work done and enjoy the process.

I learned that I miss the company of my wife. Not that we used to go out often, but since both children have arrived, we are just plain tired at 8pm and want to unwind. She likes the internet, and I like to clean, take care of tasks and well, work the net too. But this pattern has become destructive. We are here together but not really together. We need to find a common task we can do together and I need to pamper the hell out of her. I really get it when she says that she wants to feel like she did when we were dating. Hell, back then, I was 29, no responsibilities and just wanted to impress this hot chick I met. Now? We take turns handing the baby off to each other bemoaning how long it has been since we managed to shower. Rough, eh?

During this time off, I wanted to set goals. I need goals. I want to make sure that what I want to achieve helps my family get closer. I want a clean house that is not covered in clutter, and I want to see my friends and our friends. I want more “guys nights out”, and more time bonding with our kids. I want my laptop back (the hard drive blew), and I want a good nights sleep. I don’t want a sore back anymore and I want to finally be in a position to make something happen in my workplace, whether it’s my current one, or a new one. The time is now!

2006 did not end well, and 2007 has to be a better year because for the first time in years, I am clearly seeing my future and it sucks, unless I want to change it. I do, and I can. So stand back world and watch out for me. I’m ready to make that splash in the pool of life, and for the first time in my life, I’m NOT taking a life jacket, just in case, but instead, I’m going to learn how to swim.

Whatever doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.

————————————————————————————

Back to the household…

Stewie decided to get up at 4am this morning… How thoughtful.

The Royal Rumble was yesterday, the only WWE PPV that I have ever seen in a bar, or paid for (except attending Wrestlemania 6). I missed it. I missed my 3 friends that used to do the wrestling thing with me. I have not heard from them in years. I have kids, they never will. Oh well.

Linus told me, over the weekend that he, “no like this Mummy… Want different Mummy”. Same for his little brother… Want different Stewie. Poor kid is going to miss me big time when I go back to work.

I am going to potty train Linus, and am calling out my 4 loyal readers (lol) for their tips, tricks and advice.

The new neighbours that moved in behind us, to whom I brought over an apple pie to welcome them to the neighborhood, but have not heard from yet, finally got blinds for their bathroom/bedroom last night. Thank goodness… The nightly nude show is coming to an end.

All the Dads in the playgroup are having another “Guys nite out”, Feb 6th at our place. On the menu is deli and a few starters, like chopped liver (yum). I love that we can all get together and bash the Liberal party of Canada.

Speaking of the Liberals… I watched the beginning of question period today and found it funny that new Liberal leader Stephane Dion was picking at PM Harper for his environmental record, when Dion was the Environment Minister under the Liberals and did nothing to help Canada. Hypocrite. Yet people still vote for these idiots. Sigh. I predict an embarrassing end for Dion in his role with the Liberals…